Knitting with Stainless Steel Yarn (and Other Metal Yarns too!)

Knitting with Metal Yarns

Metal yarns make beautiful projects- dynamic, full of a movement a life all their own. Most metal yarns sold for knitting are wrapped in a wool or silk core, which helps make them feel softer than a plain metal wire would be- and trust me, as someone who has knit a scawl out of metal wire, it is both hard on the hand and not very comfortable to wear! The downside of metal yarns is that they can twist up and break easily if not handled properly, but not to worry, these tips will help your project be a success! 

(SS Fern Knitting Pattern in Habu Silk Stainless Steel)

Tips for knitting with metal yarns:

  1.  Make sure to let the yarn untwist from the side of the cone or roll, not off the top (which will add more twist). I find it easiest to lay the cone next to me and unroll several yards at a time to work with.
  2. Hold up the project to let it untwist occasionally.  Do this every time you see the yarn starting to kink up and twist in on itself- some twist is inevitable, but the less twisting, the less issues you will have with breaking and tangling.
  3. Don’t tug hard on the yarn- especially if it is tangled! Unlike most yarns, metal yarns tend to not untangle nicely with a light tug, because that will often cause a kink in the yarn, making the tangle harder to undo.
  4. Plan on not ripping out (frogging) your work. Metal yarns are hard to frog, and sometimes will break. Obviously you will need to unravel if you have a mistake, but swatch in a similar weight of yarn if possible instead of your metal yarn, or work a very small swatch in case it cannot be undone.
  5. Needles- I found addi lace needles to be my favorite for knitting with metal yarns. Addi lace needles are sharp, but not as slippery as regular addi turbos.  The metal yarn is both very fine and somewhat slippery, so you want to use a knitting needle with enough of a point that you can knit the lace easily, but you also don’t want the needle to be slippery, you don’t want your stitches flying off!  I prefer a 32 inch circular, but any circular between 24 and 40 inches will be easy enough to move (smaller can make the needles harder to manipulate, larger and the cord gets tangled with the yarn)
  6. Metal yarns tend to stay how to put them- so to make it easier to knit, tug down on the knitting very lightly at the end of every row (or do it as you go along, like I do). This makes the stitches elongated and easier to get the knitting needles through.
  7. Stitch patterns- metal yarns don’t need to be blocked, but they  look especially nice when a pattern is fairly simple- something that looks good when the stitches are distorted from being stretched (simple lace tends to work well, very complex lace is pretty but the effect just isn’t the same as with plain yarn). I like reversible lace- where I can knit garter stitch every other row, so the lace looks good for both sides. 

Projects using stainless steel and metal yarns:
Stainless Steel Yarns:
There are 2 main places that make stainless steel yarn- Habu, and more recently, Lion Brand. 
Stainless Steel Yarn for Knitting (you can read the blog post that goes with the video here: Stainless Steel Knitting)

This is part of Knit School on Midnightsky Fibers! If you found it helpful, it would be great if you shared it!


Rebecca Z. said...

This is awesome. Informative, helpful, and lots of fun. Can't wait to give some steel yarn a trip across the needles.

Thank you.

Raj Sharma said...

Awsome blog on Construction related information...keep posting.
Steel Wire

Lauren Gottlieb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dani said...

Thank you for these tips. Do you know if these yarns are attractive to magnets? Could I knit some fabric with metal yarn and then use a magnet to fasten something to it?